Experiment in Total Freedom

»Experiment in Total Freedom« 2002 by Carol Bove

»Strawberries Need Rain« 2003 by Carol Bove

“Every A-frame had your number on the wall,” sang Steely Dan of LSD chef Augustus Owsley Stanley after his heyday had been supplanted by seventies anomie. Hippie culture, for all its rhetoric of individualism, had its conformist aspect: “Everyone in this room is wearing a uniform and don’t kid yourself,” Frank Zappa told his audience from the stage in 1967. Equally, every rainbow-painted Volkswagen camper in Berkeley would have its dog-eared copy of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet (1923), beloved by mainstream hippies for the way in which its blankly spiritual verses permitted projection.

Take apart Bove’s neatly minimalist column of sixty-eight cream-colored hardbacks of this book, TOWER OF THE PROPHET (2002), and you would discover—as Bove did when she began buying the volumes readily available in charity shops (for what goes up must come down, and who reads Gibran today?)—that their owners often underlined the Lebanese-American poet’s essays in precisely the same places. Free your mind, it would appear, and the hive mind will follow you. It’s equally characteristic of Bove, however, that her example of communal taste was first published in 1923, an emblem therefore of belated reaction and recrudescence, complicating pat linearity. The sixties were not a fresh start but a temporal patchwork: they didn’t end in 1969, didn’t originate without multifarious precedent, and are not necessarily the acid-and-anti-establishment years of consensual repute. –Matthew Herbert,
Parkett 86


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